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The Bundesliga is the highest level of Germanymarker's football league system. The term Bundesliga also applies to football in Austria and is used to refer to the highest level league competitions in several other sports in the two countries.

Germany was unusual, in that, unlike in most other countries, a unified national league structure was quite late in developing. The Bundesliga was not formed until 1963 and the structure and organisation of the nation's football leagues have undergone frequent changes right up to the present day. The league was originally founded by the German Football Association, but is now operated by the Deutsche Fußball Liga.


The Bundesliga is composed of two divisions: the 1. Bundesliga (although it is rarely referred to with the First prefix), and, below that, the 2. Bundesliga (Second Bundesliga), which has been the second tier of German football since 1974. The Bundesligen (pl.) are professional leagues. Since 2008, the 3. Liga (3rd League) in Germany is also a professional league, but may not be called Bundesliga because the league is run by the German Football Association (DFB) and not, as are the 2 Bundesligen, by the German Football League (DFL).

Below the level of the 3rd league, leagues are generally often subdivided on a regional basis. For example, the Regionalligen are currently made up of Nord (North), Süd (South) and West divisions, and the Oberligen (upper leagues) are composed of nine divisions representing federal states or large urban and geographical areas. The levels below the Oberligen differ between the local areas. The league structure has changed frequently and typically reflects the degree of participation in the sport in various parts of the country. In the early 1990s, changes were driven by the reunification of Germany and the subsequent integration of the national leagues of Eastmarker and West Germanymarker.

Every team in the two Bundesligen must have a licence to play in the league, or else they are relegated into the regional leagues. To obtain a licence, teams must be financially healthy and meet certain standards of conduct as organisations.

As in other national leagues, there are significant benefits to being in the top division:
  • A greater share of television broadcast licence revenues goes to 1. Bundesliga sides.
  • 1. Bundesliga teams draw significantly greater levels of fan support. Average attendance in the first league is 38,000 per game — more than twice the average of the 2. Bundesliga.
  • Greater exposure through television and higher attendance levels helps 1. Bundesliga teams attract the most lucrative sponsorships.
  • 1. Bundesliga teams develop substantial financial muscle through the combination of television and gate revenues, sponsorships and marketing of their team brands. This allows them to attract and retain skilled players from domestic and international sources and to construct first-class stadium facilities.

The 1. Bundesliga is financially strong, and the 2. Bundesliga has begun to evolve in a similar direction, becoming more stable organisationally and financially, and reflecting an increasingly higher standard of professional play.

Internationally, the most well-known German clubs include Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen. Hamburger SV can lay claim to being the only club that has played continuously in the Bundesliga since its foundation.

Effective from the 2008–09 season, the Bundesliga will reinstate an earlier German system of promotion and relegation:
  • The bottom two finishers in the Bundesliga are automatically relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, with the top two finishers in the 2. Bundesliga taking their place.
  • The third-from-bottom club in the Bundesliga will play a two-legged match with the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga, with the winner taking up the final place in the following season's Bundesliga.

For several years, a different system had been used in which the bottom three finishers of the Bundesliga had been automatically relegated, to be replaced by the top three finishers in the 2. Bundesliga. (Before 1974-75 it was only four clubs that changed places instead of six).

The season starts in early August and lasts until late May, with a winter break of six weeks (mid-December through to the end of January). In recent years, games have been played on Saturdays (seven games beginning at 3:30 pm) and Sundays (two games beginning at 5:00 pm). A new television deal in 2006 reintroduced a Friday game (beginning at 8:30 pm) in place of one of the Saturday matches.



For more details on this topic, see History of German football
Prior to the formation of the Bundesliga, German football was played at an amateur level in a large number of sub-regional leagues until, in 1949, part time (semi-) professionalism was introduced and only five regional Oberligen (Premier Leagues) remained. Regional champions and runners-up played a series of playoff matches for the right to compete in a final game for the national championship. On 28 January 1900, a national association, the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB) had been founded in Leipzigmarker with 86 member clubs. The first recognised national championship team was VfB Leipzig, who beat DFC Prague 7-2 in a game played at Altonamarker on 31 May 1903.

Through the 1950s, there were continued calls for the formation of a central professional league, especially as professional leagues in other countries began to draw Germany's best players away from the semi-professional domestic leagues. At the international level the German game began to falter as German teams often fared poorly against professional teams from other countries. A key supporter of the central league concept was national team head coach Sepp Herberger who said, “If we want to remain competitive internationally, we have to raise our expectations at the national level.”

Meanwhile, in East Germany, a separate league was established with the formation of the DS-Oberliga (Deutscher Sportausschuss Oberliga) in 1950. The league was re-named the Football Oberliga DFV in 1958 and was generally referred to simply as the DDR-Liga or DDR-Oberliga. The league fielded 14 teams with two relegation spots.


The defeat of the national team by Yugoslavia (0–1) in a 1962 World Cup quarter final game in Chile was one impetus (of many) to the formation of a national league. Under new DFB president Hermann Gösmann (elected that very day) the Bundesliga was created in Dortmund on 28 July 1962 to begin play starting with the 1963–64 season.

At the time, there were five Oberligen (Premier Leagues) in place representing West Germany's North, South, West, Southwest, and Berlin. East Germany, under Soviet occupation, maintained its separate league structure. Forty-six clubs applied for admission to the new league. Sixteen teams were selected based on their success on the field, economic criteria and representation of the various Oberligen.

The first Bundesliga games were played on 24 August 1963. Early favorite 1. FC Köln was the first Bundesliga champion (with 45:19 points) over second place clubs Meidericher SV and Eintracht Frankfurt (both 39:25).

Qualifying system

The qualifying system for the new league was fairly complex. The league placings of the clubs playing in the Oberligen for the last ten seasons were taken into consideration, whereby results from 1952 to 1955 counted once, results from 1955 to 1959 counted double and results from 1959 to 1963 triple. A first place finish was awarded 16 points, a sixteenth place one point. Appearances in the German championship or DFB-Pokal finals were also rewarded with points. The five Oberliga champions of the 1962-63 season were granted direct access to the Bundesliga. All up, 46 clubs applied for the 16 available Bundesliga slots.

Following this system, by 11 January 1963, the DFB announced nine fixed clubs for the new league and reduced the clubs eligible for the remaining seven places to 20. Clubs within the same Oberliga that were separated by less than 50 points were considered on equal rank and the 1962-63 placing was used to determined the qualified team.

The breakdown for the five Oberligas was as follows:
  • Oberliga Nord: Eight clubs applied for Bundesliga membership, of those Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen qualified early (11 January 1963). The third place went to Eintracht Braunschweig due to their third place finish in 1962–63 even though their overall points put them in seventh spot in the ranking, but within 50 points of third-placed VfL Osnabrück. Osnabrück finished seventh in 1962-63.

Points table:
Rank Club Points 1952 to 1963 Place in 1962–63
1 Hamburger SV 1 518 1
2 Werder Bremen 1 396 2
3 VfL Osnabrück 2 313 7
4 Hannover 96 2 309 9
5 FC St Pauli 2 303 6
6 Holstein Kielmarker 2 294 5
7 Eintracht Braunschweig 2 276 3
8 Arminia Hannover 3 103 10
  • Source: DSFS Liga-Chronik , page: B 11, accessed: 4 November 2008

  • Oberliga West: All Oberliga West clubs except TSV Marl-Hüls applied for Bundesliga membership. Borussia Dortmund, 1. FC Köln and FC Schalke 04 qualified early. Meidericher SV and Preußen Münster qualified even though both clubs had less points than Alemannia Aachen. Aachen finished fifth, Meidericher SV came in fourth and Preußen Münster earned a third place finish in 1962–63.

Points table:
Rank Club Points 1952 to 1963 Place in 1962–63
1 1. FC Köln 1 466 1
2 Borussia Dortmund 1 440 2
3 FC Schalke 04 1 396 6
4 Alemannia Aachen 2 285 5
5 Preußen Münster 2 251 4
6 Meidericher SV 2 250 3
7 Fortuna Düsseldorf 2 225 13
8 Westfalia Herne 2 222 14
9 Viktoria Köln 3 201 8
10 Schwarz-Weiß Essen 2 167 7
11 Rot-Weiß Oberhausen 2 154 10
12 Borussia Mönchengladbach 3 155 11
13 Hamborn 07 3 101 12
14 Bayer Leverkusen 3 88 9
15 Wuppertaler SV 4 52 15
  • Source: DSFS Liga-Chronik , page: B 11, accessed: 4 November 2008

  • Oberliga Berlin: Only three clubs applied for the one available spot, Hertha BSC Berlin qualified early.

Points table:
Rank Club Points 1952 to 1963 Place in 1962–63
1 Hertha BSC Berlin 1 346 1
2 Tasmania 1900 Berlin 3 324 2
3 Viktoria 89 Berlin 3 318 9
  • Source: DSFS Liga-Chronik , page: B 12, accessed: 4 November 2008

  • Oberliga Süd: Of the thirteen clubs from this league applying, the 1. FC Nuremberg and Eintracht Frankfurt qualified early. Karlsruher SC and VfB Stuttgart held third and fourth place in the overall points ranking. Kickers Offenbach and FC Bayern Munich missed out to TSV 1860 Munich due to the latter winning the league in 1962–63 even though 1860 were 153 points behind Offenbach and 59 behind FC Bayern.

Points table:
Rank Club Points 1952 to 1963 Place in 1962–63
1 1. FC Nuremberg 1 447 2
2 Eintracht Frankfurt 1 420 4
3 Karlsruher SC 2 419 5
4 VfB Stuttgart 2 408 6
5 Kickers Offenbach 2 382 7
6 FC Bayern Munich 2 288 3
7 TSV 1860 Munich 2 229 1
8 VfR Mannheim 3 227 12
9 SpVgg Fürth 3 224 9
10 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 3 185 11
11 FC Bayern Hof 3 90 13
12 TSV Schwaben Augsburg 3 61 15
13 KSV Hessen Kassel 3 36 10
  • Source: DSFS Liga-Chronik , page: B 12, accessed: 4 November 2008

  • Oberliga Südwest: Of the seven clubs from the league applying, the 1. FC Saarbrücken qualified early even though FK Pirmasens and Borussia Neunkirchen were less than ten points behind in the overall ranking and finished better in 1962–63. The rumor persists that Saarbrücken was chosen because it was from the home state of the later DFB chairman Hermann Neuberger (Chairman from 1975 to 1992), a very influential figure in German football. The DFB justified the choice of the 1. FCS with the fact that the club had a superior infrastructure to the other two. The 1. FC Kaiserslautern also qualified.

Points table:
Rank Club Points 1952 to 1963 Place in 1962–63
1 1. FC Kaiserslautern 2 464 1
2 1. FC Saarbrücken 1 384 5
3 FK Pirmasens 2 382 3
4 Borussia Neunkirchen 2 376 2
5 Wormatia Worms 3 278 4
6 Saar 05 Saarbrücken 3 229 9
7 Sportfreunde Saarbrücken 4 160 6
  • Source: DSFS Liga-Chronik , page: B 12, accessed: 4 November 2008

  • Bold denotes club qualified for the new Bundesliga.
  • 1 denotes club was one of the nine selected on 11 January 1963.
  • 2 denotes club was one of the 20 taken into final selection.
  • 3 denotes club was one of the 15 applicants which were removed from final selection.
  • 4 denotes club withdrew Bundesliga application.

Structure and competition

The German football champion is decided strictly by play in the Bundesliga. Each club plays every other club once at home and once away. Originally, a victory was worth two points, with a draw worth one point and a loss no points. Since the 1995–96 season, a victory has been worth three points, with no change in the value of a draw or loss. The club with the most points at the end of the season becomes German champions. Currently, the top two clubs in the table qualify automatically for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League, while the third-place team enters the Champions League at the third qualifying round (see overview). The two teams at the bottom of the table are relegated into the 2nd Bundesliga, while the top two teams in the 2nd Bundesliga are promoted. The sixteenth place team (third last), and the third place team in the 2nd Bundesliga play a two-leg play-off match. The winner of this match plays the next season in the Bundesliga, and the loser in the 2nd Bundesliga.

If teams are level on points, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Goal difference for the entire season.
  2. Total goals scored for the entire season.
  3. Head-to-head results (total points).
  4. Head-to-head goal difference.
  5. Head-to-head away goals scored.
  6. Total away goals scored for the entire season.

If two clubs are still tied after all of these tiebreakers have been applied, a single match is held at a neutral site to determine the placement. However, this has never been necessary in the history of the Bundesliga.

In terms of team selection, matchday squads must have no more than five non-EU representatives. Seven substitutes are permitted to be selected, from which three can be used in the duration of the game.

Changes in league structure

  • Number of teams:

  • Number of teams relegated (automatic relegation except as noted):
    • 1963/64–1973/74: 2
    • 1974/75–1980/81: 3
    • 1981/82–1990/91: 2 automatic plus the 16th-place team in the First Bundesliga played a two-leg test match against the third-place team of the Second Bundesliga for the final spot in the First Bundesliga
    • 1991/92: 4
    • 1992/93-2007/08: 3
    • From 2008/09 on: 2 automatic plus the 16th-place team in the First Bundesliga playing a two-leg test match against the third-place team of the Second Bundesliga for the final spot in the First Bundesliga

European qualification (as of 2008–09)

  • 1st and 2nd place: Group phase of UEFA Champions League
  • 3rd place: 4th qualifying round of Champions League for Non-Champions. Winners at this stage enter the group phase; losers enter the group phase of UEFA Europa League.
  • DFB-Pokal winner: Qualifies for 4th qualifying round of UEFA Europa League, regardless of league position.
    • If the Cup winner qualifies for the Champions League, the Cup winner's place in the Europa League goes to the defeated Cup finalist if it is not already qualified for European competition—although the defeated Cup finalist will enter the competition a stage earlier than if it had won the Cup. This rule was retained from the Europa League's predecessor, the UEFA Cup.
      • The team that benefits from this rule does not necessarily have to be a member of the First Bundesliga. For example, although the Second Bundesliga side Alemannia Aachen lost to Werder Bremen in the 2004 DFB-Pokal final, Alemannia secured an entry in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, because Werder qualified for the Champions League as First Bundesliga champions.
      • Also, if both Cup finalists qualify for the Champions League, an extra Europa League berth is granted to the highest finisher in the First Bundesliga not already qualified for Europe. This most recently happened in 2005, when the 2005 DFB-Pokal final pitted champions Bayern Munich against runners-up Schalke 04, with Bayern winning. As a result, sixth-place Bayer Leverkusen received a berth in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup.
  • 4th place: Qualifies for 4th qualifying round of Europa League.
  • 5th place: Qualifies for 3rd qualifying round of Europa League.
  • An additional place in the Europa League may also be granted via the UEFA Fair Play mechanism. This rule was maintained from the UEFA Cup.
  • 16th place: Plays a two-leg relegation match (home and away) against the 3rd placed team of the 2nd Bundesliga.
  • 17th and 18th place: Directly relegated to 2nd Bundesliga.

The number of German clubs which may participate in UEFA competitions is determined by UEFA coefficients, which take into account the results of a particular nation's clubs in UEFA competitions over the preceding five years.

History of European qualification

  • European Cup/Champions League:
    • Up to and including 1996/97: German champion only
    • 1997–99: Top two teams
    • 1999–2008: Top two teams automatically into first group phase (only one group phase starting in 2003/04). Depending on the DFB's UEFA coefficients standing, either one or two other clubs (most recently one) entered at the third qualifying round; winners at this level entered the group phase.
  • UEFA Cup/Europa League:
    • Starting with the 1999/2000 season, the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) winner automatically qualified. Depending on the DFB's UEFA coefficients standing, anywhere from zero to three extra participants could enter. Since the Cup Winners' Cup was folded into the UEFA Cup after 1999, the DFB was always entitled to enter a minimum of three clubs in the UEFA Cup, and was able to enter as many as four (the maximum for any European federation). Teams that entered via UEFA's Fair Play mechanism, or those that entered through the now-defunct Intertoto Cup, did not count against the national quota. From 2006 through the final Intertoto Cup in 2008, only one First Bundesliga side was eligible to enter the Intertoto Cup and possibly earn a UEFA Cup berth. For the 2005/06 season, the DFB earned an extra UEFA Cup place via the Fair Play draw; this place went to Mainz 05 as the highest-ranked club in the Fair Play table of the First Bundesliga not already qualified for Europe.
  • Cup Winners' Cup (abolished after 1999):
    • DFB-Pokal winner entered the Cup Winners' Cup. Today, that club enters the UEFA Europa League.

Current members of the Bundesliga (2009–10 season)

SC Freiburg, 1. FSV Mainz 05, and 1. FC Nuremberg have just achieved promotion into the Bundesliga, replacing FC Energie Cottbus, Karlsruher SC, and Arminia Bielefeld, who finished at the bottom three spots of the table at the end of the 2008–09 season and thus were relegated to the 2nd Bundesliga.

Verdiente Meistervereine

In 2004, the honor of “Verdiente Meistervereine” (roughly “distinguished champion clubs”) was introduced, following a custom first practised by the Italian club Juventus, to recognize sides that have won multiple championships or other honours by the display of gold stars on their team crests and jerseys. Each country's usage is unique and in Germany the practice is to award one star for three titles, two stars for five titles, three stars for ten titles, and four stars for twenty titles.

The former East German side Berliner FC Dynamomarker laid claim to the three stars of a ten-time champion. They petitioned the league to have their DDR-Oberliga titles recognized, but received no reply. Dynamo eventually took matters into their own hands and emblazoned their jerseys with three stars. This caused some debate given what may be the tainted nature of their championships under the patronage of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi. The issue also affects other former East German and pre-Bundesliga champions. In November 2005, the DFB allowed all former champions to display a single star inscribed with the number of titles, including all German men's titles since 1903, women's titles since 1974 and East German titles.

The DFB format only applies to teams playing below the Bundesliga (the top two divisions), since there the DFL conventions remain in force. BFC Dynamo Berlin have not followed this guideline and continue to wear three stars, rather than a single star inscribed with the number 10. Greuther Fürth unofficially display three (silver) stars for pre-war titles in spite of being in the Bundesliga second division.

As of May 2008 the following clubs are allowed to wear stars while playing in the Bundesliga. The number in parentheses is for Bundesliga titles won.

As of May 2008 the following clubs are allowed to wear one star while playing outside the Bundesliga. The number in parentheses is for total league championships won over the course of German football history, and would be included within the star.

Media coverage

Sky holds the rights to broadcast both first and second division matches on a pay-per-view basis. Deutsche Telekom holds the IPTV rights. Only two matches, the season opener and the opener after the winter break, are broadcast on free television, on ARD. GOL TV has exclusive U.S. and Canadianmarker rights to broadcast the Bundesliga. In Australia the Bundesliga is broadcast by Setanta Sports and digital channel One HD. Sport Klub has the rights to broadcast in Serbia. In Greecemarker, most Bundesliga matches are broadcasted on OTE's cable TV platform, Conn-X TV. The rights to broadcast the Bundesliga are generally marketed by the DFL. SportTV broadcast one live game per week for Portugal.

In the United Kingdommarker the Bundesliga was formerly available to Setanta Sports subscribers with on average, two games shown per week. However after Setanta's UK division went out of business due to financial problems, Eurosport secured the rights to broadcast the Bundesliga in several European countries, on their secondary channel, Eurosport 2. From the start of the 2009–10 season, ESPN's UK channel broadcasts live Bundesliga matches in the UK.

In Australia four exclusive games per week from the Bundesliga are broadcast on Setanta Sports.


In total, 43 clubs have won the German championship. FC Bayern Munich have 21 titles, more than any other club. The clubs with the next most titles are BFC Dynamo Berlinmarker (10; all accomplished in the GDR Oberliga) and 1. FC Nuremberg (9).

The clubs with the most Bundesliga titles besides FC Bayern Munich (20 titles) are Borussia Mönchengladbach (5) and Werder Bremen (4). Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart are tied with (3) in addition to FC Köln and FC Kaiserslautern who have (2) while TSV 1860 Munich, Eintracht Braunschweig, 1. FC Nuremberg and VfL Wolfsburg have (1).

Season Bundesliga-Champion Season Bundesliga-Champion Season Bundesliga-Champion Season Bundesliga-Champion
63–64 1. FC Köln 75–76 Borussia Mönchengladbach 87–88 SV Werder Bremen 99–00 FC Bayern Munich
64–65 SV Werder Bremen 76–77 Borussia Mönchengladbach 88–89 FC Bayern Munich 00–01 FC Bayern Munich
65–66 TSV 1860 München 77–78 1. FC Köln 89–90 FC Bayern Munich 01–02 Borussia Dortmund
66–67 Eintracht Braunschweig 78–79 Hamburger SV 90–91 1. FC Kaiserslautern 02–03 FC Bayern Munich
67–68 1. FC Nuremberg 79–80 FC Bayern Munich 91–92 VfB Stuttgart 03–04 SV Werder Bremen
68–69 FC Bayern Munich 80–81 FC Bayern Munich 92–93 SV Werder Bremen 04–05 FC Bayern Munich
69–70 Borussia Mönchengladbach 81–82 Hamburger SV 93–94 FC Bayern Munich 05–06 FC Bayern Munich
70–71 Borussia Mönchengladbach 82–83 Hamburger SV 94–95 Borussia Dortmund 06–07 VfB Stuttgart
71–72 FC Bayern Munich 83–84 VfB Stuttgart 95–96 Borussia Dortmund 07–08 FC Bayern Munich
72–73 FC Bayern Munich 84–85 FC Bayern Munich 96–97 FC Bayern Munich 08–09 VfL Wolfsburg
73–74 FC Bayern Munich 85–86 FC Bayern Munich 97–98 1. FC Kaiserslautern
74–75 Borussia Mönchengladbach 86–87 FC Bayern Munich 98–99 FC Bayern Munich

VfL Wolfsburg are the current title-holders.


Charly Körbel
Top Ten Players With Most Appearances
Player Period Club Games
1 Karl-Heinz Körbel 1972–1991 Eintracht Frankfurt 602
2 Manfred Kaltz 1971–1991 Hamburger SV 581
3 Oliver Kahn 1987–2008 FC Bayern Munich 557
4 Klaus Fichtel 1965–1988 FC Schalke 04 552
5 Miroslav Votava 1976–1996 SV Werder Bremen 546
6 Klaus Fischer 1968–1988 FC Schalke 04 535
7 Eike Immel 1978–1995 VfB Stuttgart 534
8 Willi Neuberger 1966–1983 Eintracht Frankfurt 520
9 Michael Lameck 1972–1988 VfL Bochum 518
10 Uli Stein 1978–1997 Hamburger SV 512

Gerd Müller

Top Ten Highest Goalscorers
Player Period Club Goals
1 Gerd Müller 1965–1979 FC Bayern Munich 365 (Ø 0,85)
2 Klaus Fischer 1968–1988 FC Schalke 04 268 (Ø 0,50)
3 Jupp Heynckes 1965–1978 Borussia Mönchengladbach 220 (Ø 0,60)
4 Manfred Burgsmüller 1969–1990 Borussia Dortmund 213 (Ø 0,48)
5 Ulf Kirsten 1990–2003 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 181 (Ø 0,52)
6 Stefan Kuntz 1983–1999 1. FC Kaiserslautern 179 (Ø 0,40)
7 Dieter Müller 1973–1986 1. FC Köln 177 (Ø 0,58)
8 Klaus Allofs 1975–1993 1. FC Köln 177 (Ø 0,42)
9 Hannes Löhr 1964–1977 1. FC Köln 166 (Ø 0,44)
10 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge 1974–1984 FC Bayern Munich 162 (Ø 0,52)

Other records

See also


  1. DSFS Ligachronik: Qualifikation zur Bundesliga 1963 , page: B 11 - 12, publisher: Deutscher Sportclub für Fussballstatistik - DSFS, accessed: 3 November 2008
  3. where player played the most games.
  4. where player shot the most goals

External links

  • Bundesliga — All results since 1963, statistics, compare teams.

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